I thought some more about this, and I thought of another factor.
I have some kind of feelings, apparently, about kids innocently agreeing to things that (unknown to them) are dangerous. Especially if the kid in question is honestly convinced that what they’re agreeing to is actually something they want, something good. Double especially if adults who should be trying to protect kids in their care, instead plausible-deniability themselves out of actually trying to prevent this dangerous thing from happening.
Bonus rambly version:
A lot of my issues about politeness and respectability and keeping up appearances come from my mother don’t they.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s considered comparing this stuff to gaslighting. (There are content warnings at the top of the linked page, fyi.)
The similarities being things like:
Thinking that other people’s feelings are extremely important, and carefully protecting them, while believing your own feelings aren’t important at all
Assuming that when people contradict you, they are right and you’re wrong
Doing what other people tell you you should do, and accepting what other people tell you is normal, even if it harms you
I’ll probably write more about this later.
when I decided not to read Amanda Forest Vivian’s whole archive.
Re: kink and disability and weird feelings.
but it pretends to be:
I follow a couple of people on Tumblr who also read the webcomic Gunnerkrigg Court and, by occasionally posting reactions to new pages, remind me to actually read the new pages as they come out.
Currently some bullshit is happening in which the main character’s father (who enrolled her in a boarding school and then vanished, not telling her where he was going or how to contact him, for several years) has returned and is trying to control her life. (Start here, at the time I’m talking about there were about four more pages after that one.)
And I did a thing.
I read the new pages and was all calm like Oh, okay, he’s taking a hard line because he just got here and he has to make a strong start, don’t let it get to you, wait til tomorrow and see how much you can get back.
And then I go to Tumblr and these wonderful people I follow are raging over how horrible and abusive her father is being.
And they’re absolutely right. I was just too busy having a coping mechanism to think about that.
It would be really nice if my social anxiety were maladaptive. If it were a totally irrational reaction. If it were only holding me back, and overcoming it would only make me happier and allow me to have more and better friendships, social interactions, etc.
It’s not really that maladaptive, though.
Every so often I meet someone who acts like me except they talk more, and people hate them. People make fun of them, cut them off, talk over them. They have no patience for people who say the wrong things at the wrong times, or take too long, or ask too many questions. Or they have just enough patience to let them hang around while constantly pointing out that they’re annoying and don’t really belong.
I didn’t pick being silent and afraid of attention. I’ve never thought of it as a good thing. I admire and envy Mr. Big Fluffy Dog for being able to deal with all that not-quite-friendly needling and still open his mouth ever. But the fact is it protects me. People tolerate me who wouldn’t if I was weird in a way they had to listen to instead of a quiet way.
It’s only a little maladaptive. I could be worse off without it.
To have more actual social interactions, I have to overcome my fear, and also magically somehow
- stop having trouble hearing people in noisy places
- start understanding the flow of conversation and when to talk
- start getting my thoughts in order more quickly so I can say them at the right times
- stop pausing, using the wrong word, etc. all the time
- stop mumbling or whatever I do, I don’t even know, obviously I think I talk reasonably clearly but people don’t always understand me so who knows?
- do the right thing with eye contact at all times
- do the right thing with my tone of voice at all times
I have to overcome my worries about getting every little thing perfect while also getting every little thing perfect, is my point.
(And the truth is, I’ve made progress! I do have slightly more capacity for this stuff than I was using. I am doing less unproductive worrying. I am actually learning a lot about the flow of conversations and my ability to initiate them, etc. I just want to state for the record that I’m making progress at a fundamentally contradictory task. I am trying to get better at something and also spend less time thinking about whether I’m doing it right.)
But right now I mostly just hate the whole world, everything that made me this afraid and also made it a reasonable feeling.
This was written several months ago; you could call it a previous draft of this. Maybe I should backdate it, but that seems kind of weird.